Gerda continued on her way in her golden carriage given to her by the Prince and Princess. As she came to the woods, robbers were waiting. They spied her carriage and could not pass it up because it was gold. They captured Gerda and her beautiful things.
The woman of the camp thought Gerda would be good eating, but her daughter thought otherwise. The daughter, the little Robber-Girl, pretty much had the run of the camp. What she said went. If she told her mother to do something, she did it. The Robber-Girl said that they would not eat Gerda; she would be a playmate to the Robber-Girl. Gerda would sleep in the bed with the Robber-Girl and her animals. The Robber-Girl would also take her nice fur muff.
The Robber-Girl told Gerda all the things she did. She told her how she got whatever she wanted and that she was obliged to keep all of her pets chained up. There were birds, who were caged. There was a reindeer who was chained up. Gerda was also to be restrained. Each night the Robber-Girl stroked the reindeer’s neck with her knife to remind the reindeer who was the boss. This scared the reindeer and the Robber-Girl got a kick out of scaring it.
In bed, Gerda repeated her story again about Kay and the whole thing. The little Robber-Girl fell asleep and she always slept with her knife. When she was asleep, the animals began to talk to Gerda. They had seen Kay. He was with the Snow Queen who went to Lapland and had her summer palace on an island called Spitsbergen.
In the morning, Gerda told the Robber-Girl all that the animals had said. At first, the Robber-Girl thought it was all made-up, but the reindeer said it was all true and he had been raised in Lapland. The Robber-Girl said she would do something for Gerda. When her mother fell asleep, the Robber-Girl was going to let Gerda go. She would give her back her fur boots, but she would not give back the muff. She would give Gerda her mother’s mittens though. They were large and warm. Gerda would ride upon the reindeer to the Snow Queen. The Robber-Girl also gave Gerda some bread and ham.
The reindeer and Gerda headed away from the robbers’ camp and towards Lapland.
Spitsbergen is a real place, although, I don’t know if I would want to be in a place called “Spitsbergen.” Spitsbergen was officially discovered in 1596. It’s not at the North Pole, but it’s fairly close. It’s not always white with snow. There are green things that grow there. It only gets about 43 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer though, so it’s not very warm. It’s not a shorts and tank-top kind of place. There are people who live there. Spitsbergen has been a coal mining location for a long time, but at one point it was a whaling base.
Reindeer do live on Spitsbergen as well as polar bears. So have fun with that if you visit. Other than all of that, there isn’t a whole lot to Spitsbergen, even though it’s the 36th largest island in the world and part of Norway.
People aren’t all bad; nobody is ever all bad. In this story, we find that out. This little Robber-Girl sounds just awful. She’s mean to animals. She’s mean to her mother. She doesn’t see anything wrong with taking something from somebody else. She’s not nice. What little girl taunts an animal with a knife? Despite all of this, she still finds it in her heart to let Gerda go. She also lets the reindeer go and the reindeer seemed to be the animal she liked the most.
Just because someone seems awfully bad, doesn’t mean they are without feeling or cannot be reached. It’s definitely harder to reach someone who seems so bad. It doesn’t seem like anything you do or say will change how they see the world, but sometimes life can surprise you and they were listening when you thought they were not.
Maybe the Robber-Girl will grow up to be a decent person?
Do you find it hard to believe that a mother would willingly raise her child in a den of robbers?
Do you think the Robber-Girl needs the Super Nanny?